Supporting Sexuality and Gender Diversity

Dear members of the University community / Boozhoo / Aanii / Kwe kwe,

In 2012, Laurentian’s Sexuality and Gender Diversity Committee carried out a survey to the community to assess the climate for our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, 2-sprited, + (LGBTQ2-S+) members.

While the survey did find that there were many positive experiences for LGBTQ2-S+ members, there were clear opportunities for improvement. With these findings in mind, the Committee made the following recommendations:

  • Create a Vice-President, Equity and Diversity position;
  • Develop and implement a university-wide Positive Space training program;
  • Provide resources to Pride @ LU and the Women’s Centre, including the hiring of a full-time, permanent staff member for both of these important groups;
  • Provide universally-accessible washrooms and change room facilities throughout campus;
  • Engage in the promotion of LGBTQ2-S curriculum.

I am pleased to announce that we responded with tremendous effort and made the following improvements:

  • Assistant Vice-President, Diversity, Equity and Human Rights: In April 2016, Laurentian welcomed Noël Badiou in this role. Noël came to us with a great deal of expertise in human rights and is creating proactive education programs to help create an environment of respect, equity, diversity and inclusion;
  • Safe Space Training: safe space training started in September 2016 with the goal of providing training to 30-40 people within its first year. To date, over 400 members of the Laurentian community have taken part. The goal of the program is to provide visible contact points for members of the LGBTQ2-S community who may find themselves in need of seeking services or support. Laurentian members who wish to become a contact point will attend a 1 1/2 hour training session offered by Dr. Joel Dickinson, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology. Participants receive a Safe Space sticker to display in their work, research and study areas, indicating that they have the knowledge to talk about issues related to sexuality or gender expression, and are familiar with internal policies, procedures, and resources as well as off-campus resources;
  • New minor in Critical Sexuality Studies: last September the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department began offering this new interdisciplinary minor which takes a critical view of sexuality from perspectives such as biology, history, and philosophy;
  • Washrooms: the University has introduced gender-neutral washrooms as part of its newly-constructed spaces;
  • Preferred Name: this may not seem like a huge leap forward, but to members of the Laurentian community who have a name on their birth certificate that does not match their identity, this initiative can be very impactful. Our name can be a very key piece to our identity, and thanks to our IT team, it is now possible for students to use a preferred name that will identify them on all systems within the university. After two years of work, we are very proud to offer this option.

All of these achievements were accomplished in five short years! Keep an eye out for the next survey which will be released within the next month, and have a say on how we move forward together!

As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter. You can reach me at, or can join the 12,300 people who follow me on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank you, Miigwech.

Students First

Dear members of the University community / Boozhoo / Aanii / Kwe kwe,

Walking through the Classroom Building, I see students sitting on the new benches, working, collaborating and laughing. Across campus, I see newly-renovated classrooms and labs filled with bright minds and state-of-the art technology. At the Great Hall, I regularly hear how the food and service is top notch. Starbucks and the new foyer of the Alphonse-Raymond Building are new spaces for students to enjoy.

MyLaurentian hub is up and running on the ground floor of the Parker Building, minimizing the need for students to go at various offices on campus for assistance. We will soon begin construction of the $10 million Student Centre next to the West Residence, an initiative led by the Student’s General Association (SGA) and funded by its members.

The East Residence was built to address a waiting list for residences on campus. The Centre for Academic Excellence was established to support student success. Varsity hockey was re-introduced as a mean to enhance student life.

Students spoke during the development of the University’s 2012-2017 Strategic Plan, and we listened.

Students now have new opportunities to be heard. You have likely seen posters around campus referring to the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). This survey is sent to more than 300,000 first and fourth year students at hundreds of colleges and universities across Canada. It measures how much time and effort students put into their studies, but also how well we do at supporting them in their studies.

The answers students give us help us understand what we are doing well… and not so well.

If you are a student, I hope that you can find a few minutes in your busy schedule to fill out the survey. You will likely have received invitations by email on February 9th, and we will remind you again in March. I should also mention that of those of you who do respond will qualify for two $500 prizes. If you want more information, please go to

The second upcoming opportunity for students to help shape Laurentian’s future is the development of the University’s 2018-2023 Strategic Plan. The Board of Governors and Senate have now appointed the 24 members of the 2018-2023 Strategic Planning Steering Committee:

• Dr. Linda Ambrose, Special Advisor – Strategic Planning; Full Professor, Department of History; former Acting Dean, Faculties of Social Sciences and Humanities; recipient of Laurentian University Teaching Excellence Award; recipient of Laurentian University Status of Women Achievement Award;

• Dr. Lace Marie Brogden, Dean, Faculty of Education;

• Dr. Sheila Cote-Meek, Associate Vice-President, Academic and Indigenous Programs; Full Professor, School of Rural and Northern Health; Senator; alumna;

• Dr. Robin Craig, Lead Research and Knowledge Mobilization Strategist; member of the board of Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario (TNO); member of the board of the Laurentian Child and Family Centre;

• Dr. Joël Dickinson, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Psychology; Co-Chair, Committee for Sexual and Gender Diversity; recipient of a Laurentian University Teaching Excellence Award; Northern Leadership Program (NLP) Fellow

• Éric Dupuis, Bachelor of Business Administration student, Vice-President and Treasurer, Association des étudiantes et étudiants francophones;

• Grace Fox, member of the Laurentian University Native Education Council (LUNEC), trustee with the Rainbow District School Board;

• Dominic Giroux, President and Vice-Chancellor (Chair);

• Kraymr Grenke, H.B.Comm. student; President of the Students’ General Association (SGA); Vice-President, Finance of the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance; Voyageurs athlete; Governor; Senator;

• Lorella Hayes, Member of the Board of Governors; Vice-President, Corporate Services, Greater Sudbury Utilities; alumna

• Paul Henry, Principal, École secondaire catholique Sacré-Coeur, Sudbury; member of the board of directors of Learning Networks of Ontario, Mid North Network; member of the Comité des services sociaux en français; alumnus

• Emily Jago, Master of Human Kinetics student; Voyageurs athlete; alumna;

• Marz Kord, CEO and President, Wallbridge Mining Company Limited; alumnus;

• Claude Lacroix, Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors; Partner, Lacroix Laywers; alumnus;

• Martin Laferrière, Director, IT Infrastructure; NLP Fellow; alumnus;

• Dr. Pascal Lefebvre, Associate Professor, Speech Pathology program; Senator;

• Justin Lemieux, MBA student; Director of Student Recruitment; NLP Fellow; member of the board of the Sudbury Charities Foundation; alumnus;

• Chris Mercer, Associate Vice-President, Student Life, Enrolment Management and International; member of the board of the Sudbury Airport Community Development Corporation; recipient of Sudbury Top 40 Under 40 award; Senator

• Dr. Thomas Merritt, Canada Research Chair in Genomics and Bioinformatics; Full Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry; Past Chair, Northern Water Sports Centre; recipient of a Community Builder Award for Sport and Recreation;

• Dr. Amanda Schweinbenz, Associate Professor, School of Human Kinetics; Co-Chair, 2021 Canada Summer Games Bid Committee; Voyageurs coach; Senator;

• Alex Usher, President of Higher Education Strategy Associates and Editor-in-Chief of Global Higher Education Strategy Monitor;

• David Vares, PhD in Human Studies student, President of the Graduate Students’ Association; member of the board of Sudbury and Manitoulin Workforce Planning; Governor; Senator; alumnus;

• Dr. Shelley Watson, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology; recipient of a Laurentian University Teaching Excellence Award; former Acting Dean, Faculty of Graduate Studies;

• Jennifer Witty, Chair of the Board of Governors; Superintendent of Human Resources Systems, Ontario Operations, Vale; member of the board of the Greater Sudbury Development Corporation; alumna.

Consultations will unfold between February 28th and May 30th.

Speaking of students and success, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge some students from the Bharti School of Engineering who are on their way to compete in the Canadian Engineering Competition.

Both the Junior and Senior teams have qualified to compete at the national competition. The junior team is composed of Harry Brahmbhatt, Daniel Krupin and Alexander Macenzie and Connor Watson, while the senior team is composed of Matt Bennison, Stéphane Labine, Colin Roos and Aidan Simpson.

As usual, our students are punching well above their weight. It is not lost on me that once again, two of the 14 Ontario teams competing for this prestigious honour are from Laurentian, and remember there are 16 accredited engineering schools in Ontario. We know you are already all-stars and will make Laurentian proud.

As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter. You can reach me at, or can join the 12,300 people who follow me on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank you, Miigwech.